Splitting the replicator: Generalized Darwinism and the place of culture in nature
The concept of Replication has been turned around, moved about and hammered upon in search for a good fit in the puzzle of Generalized Darwinism for a long time. The present paper represents a different take on the formulation of a Generalized Darwinism and on Replication. Replication in evolutionary biology is argued to combine two functions: (i) the production of propositions (Synthesis) and (ii) the retention of propositions over time (Memory). By insisting on universally grouping these two functions together the Replicator–Interactor (RI) framework is here argued to suffer from a fundamental ontological mismatch that no amount of bending and stretching of the concept can avoid. When we allow different packaging of Interaction, Synthesis and Memory (ISM) for different systems, we produce much less empirical friction. Replication then emerges as an important special case, but where replication is not the right model, the ISM model brings a range of issues into the open that remain hidden from an RI viewpoint. Also, when we reserve replication for the cases where it really fits we retain the strong theoretical power and empirical relevance by which it gained its fame in evolutionary biology.
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